Rila Mt

Rila Mountain

Rila is a mountain range, situated in Southwestern Bulgaria. It is the highest mountain in the Balkan Peninsula, with peak Mussala rising up to 2925 m and more than 25 other peaks higher than 2500 m. Its current relief was formed during the Ice Age, when glaciation processes carved deep circuses and glacial valleys. The prevailing rocks are volcanic, but marble is also present in certain areas. The climate is typically alpine with severe winters and long persisting snow cover. The vegetation is varied. In the lower parts it is presented by different types of oak and mixed deciduous forests. In higher altitudes these are replaced by beech forests, followed by a well-developed coniferous belt, formed of forests of Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris), Norway spruce (Picea abies), and Macedonian pine (Pinus peuce). Above the tree line, extensive communities are formed by Dwarf pine (Pinus mugo) or by Dwarf juniper (Juniperus sibirica), mixed with subalpine grasslands. The highest peaks form the alpine zone with relatively poor vegetation cover, developed on rocky areas. Many lakes exist nowadays in Rila Mt, being reminders of the former glacial activities. Parts of the mountain are included in the Rila National Park and Rilski Manastir Nature Park. Rila is also an Important Plant Area.

Rila Mts

© Boris Assyov

A number of Bulgarian endemics may be seen here, especially Anchusa davidovii, Anthemis orbelica, A. sancti-johanis, Centaurea kernerana, Jasione bulgarica, Leontodon rilaensis, Primula deorum, Sedum kostovii, S. stefco, Sempervivum erythraeum, Silene velenovskyana, Verbascum jankaeanum, Veronica kellererii, and Viola orbelica.

The Balkan endemics are also numerous and the following species are often seen: Abies borisi-regis, Acer heldreichii, Achillea clypeolata, A. depressa, Allium melanantherum, Angelica pancicii, Aquilegia aurea, Armeria rumelica, Barbarea balcana, Campanula lanata, C. moesiaca, C. sparsa, C. velebitica, Cardamine barbaraeoides, Cerastium decalvans, Chamaecytisus absinthioides, Cirsium appendiculatum, Crocus veluchensis, Dianthus cruentus, D. microlepis, D. tristis, Digitalis viridiflora, Festuca valida, Geum bulgaricum, Hesperis dinarica, Hieracium pannosum, Knautia dinarica, K. midzorensis, Pastinaca hirsuta, Peucedanum aegopodioides, Pinguicula balcanica, Pinus peuce, Saxifraga sancta, S. sempervivum, Scabiosa balcanica, S. triniifolia, Scrophularia aestivalis, Sempervivum ciliosum, Senecio pancicii, Sesleria comosa, Silene frivaldskyana, S. roemeri, S. waldsteinii, and Thymus albanus.

Several interesting orchids may be spotted in Rila Mt, namely Corallorhiza trifida, Dactylorhiza cordigera, D. saccifera, D. sambucina, Epipactis leptochila, Gymnadenia conopsea, G. frivaldii, Listera cordata, L. ovata, Neottia nidus-avis, and Pseudorchis albida.

Other rare species are Anemone narcissiflora, Campanula transsilvanica, Carex rupestris, Cryptogramma crispa, Cystopteris alpina, Drosera rotundifolia, Empetrum nigrum, Gentiana frigida, Gentiana lutea, Gentiana punctata, Geranium bohemicum, Gladiolus palustris, Lilium jankae, Primula halleri, Pulsatilla vernalis, Ranunculus fontanus, Rheum rhaponticum, Rhodiola rosea, Soldanella chrysostricta, Subularia aquatica, Swertia perennis, Trollius europaeus, and Viola pyrenaica.

Further notable species are Achillea clusiana, A. coarctata, A. distans, A. grandifolia, A. lingulata, Aconitum lycoctonum, Allium victorialis, Anthemis carpatica, Arabis alpina, Arenaria biflora, Astragalus glycyphylloides, Asyneuma canescens, Bartsia alpina, Bruckenthalia spiculifolia, Campanula alpina, C. trichocalycina, Cardamine rivularis, Centaurea kotschyana, C. napulifera, C. uniflora, Cicerbita alpina, Cirsium candelabrum, Dianthus barbatus, D. pinifolius, D. superbus, Digitalis grandiflora, D. viridiflora, Doronicum austriacum, Galium anisophyllon, Genista carinalis, G. depressa, Gentiana asclepiadea, G. pyrenaica, Gentianella bulgarica, Geranium macrorrhizum, G. sylvaticum, Geum coccineum, G. molle, G. montanum, Hieracium sparsum, Huperzia selago, Hypericum cerastoides, H. olympicum, Jasione heldreichii, Jovibarba heuffelii, Juniperus sibirica, Laser trilobum, Lilium martagon, Linaria grandiflora, Moneses uniflora, Onosma heterophylla, Orthilia secunda, Ostrya carpinifolia, Pedicularis verticillata, Plantago gentianoides, P. subulata, Polystichum lonchitis, Potentilla crantzii, P. haynaldiana, Prenanthes purpurea, Primula farinosa, Ranunculus platanifolius, R. serbicus, Salix lapponum, S. waldsteiniana, Saxifraga pedemontana, Scabiosa balcanica, Selaginella helvetica, S. selaginoides, Senecio abrotanifolius, S. doronicum, Seseli rigidum, Silene lerchenfeldiana, S. pusilla, Sparganium angustifolium, Streptopus amplexifolius, Symphyandra wanneri, Tanacetum macrophyllum, Telekia speciosa, Thalictrum aquilegifolium, Trifolium pannonicum, Vaccinium uliginosum, Valeriana tripteris, Veronica bellidioides, Viola biflora, and Xeranthemum annuum.